Louisiana Record

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Federal judge blocks Bayou Bridge Pipeline completion

By Erianne Leatherman | Feb 28, 2018

BATON ROUGE — A federal judge ordered a preliminary injunction on Feb. 23 to stop the final construction phase of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline.

U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick said in the court ruling that, “defendant and intervenors are hereby enjoined from taking any further action on this project in order to prevent further irreparable harm until this matter can be tried on the merits. The court will issue detailed reasons support this ruling as soon as possible.”

Dick’s ruling follows Feb. 8 testimony by environmental groups who sought a preliminary injunction to stop the construction of the pipeline amid an ongoing lawsuit between them and the Army Corps of Engineers. The environmental groups and local fisherman have widely expressed concerns about the impact the pipeline will have on the land, wildlife and local economy.  

Energy Transfer Partners has been trying to complete the construction of the last 25 miles of the pipeline, which would span 162 miles through the Atchafalaya Basin, which is “the largest contiguous bottomland hardwood forest in North America and is essential habitat for thriving populations of mammals, fish and amphibians,” according to the Sierra Club.

Bayou Bridge LLC is appealing Dick’s decision and filed a stay of injunction on Feb. 26, citing the court’s preliminary injunction is “contrary to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and has already caused and will continue to cause irreparable harm to Bayou Bridge,” court documents state.

According to court documents, Bayou Bridge LLC allows argues that the decision violates Rule 65(d)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Rule 65(d)(1) states that “'[e]very order granting an injunction... must: state the reasons why it issued, state its terms specifically and describe in reasonable detail the act or acts restrained or required.’" Bayou Bridge LLC said in a memorandum of support for the motion to stay the decision. "The Court’s order—by its own admission—violates these requirements. It offers no reasons why an injunction should issue, nor any findings and conclusions in support, but only the promise that reasons will come ‘as soon as possible.’”

Following the preliminary injunction, the Army Corps of Engineers will now be required to reexamine its approval of the pipeline construction permit. 

The Army Corps of Engineers is being sued by Earthjustice, the Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association-West, the Waterkeeper Alliance and the Sierra Club for allegedly infringing on the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws after it approved a permit for Energy Transfer Partners and Phillips 66 Partners LP to begin construction. Court documents allege the Army Corp of Engineers acted “arbitrarily and capriciously” by approving the permit without considering the environmental impact, according to court documents.

Dick had previously rejected the environmental groups’ request for a temporary restraining order against Energy Transfer Partners on Jan. 30.

A Louisiana Record article looking into the earlier court battle, which allowed the pipeline construction to continue, was published the same day the court granted an injunction to halt pipeline construction and prior to Record staff learning of the ruling. That article was temporarily taken down, after a representative of the Gulf Restoration Network expressed concern to editors in an email that the outdated information could cause unnecessary arrests. That earlier article has since been republished.

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Organizations in this Story

Energy Transfer Partners, LLC Sierra Club U.S. Army Corps of Engineers U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana